Evgeni Malkin extended his lead in the early-season NHL Points race with an assist on Miroslav Satan's team-leading fourth goal of the season Monday night against the Bruins.
But the real show came in the shootout, when Gino buried the eventual game winner for the Pens.
Penguins' backup goaltender, Dany Sabourin made his first appearance of the season in net, stopping 35 shots in regulation and overtime—and another three in the shootout—to lead the Penguins to a 2-1 victory over the Bruins.
Chubby Checker re-incarnate Tim Thomas was in the net for the B's, while Dany Sabourin made his first appearance of the season for Pittsburgh.
Early in the game you could tell there was a certain playoff atmosphere at the ice level. Tonight was the home opener for the Bruins, and the Penguins' first road game since their Eurotrip that kicked off the season two weeks ago.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were once again side by side on the Penguins' top offensive unit, coming off of a combined eight point performance on Saturday against the Leafs.
Early in the first, Pascal Dupuis turned the puck over at the Bruins' blue line, and the B's went the other way.
Dany Sabourin made two tremendous leg saves on the ensuing rush to keep the game scoreless.
Bruins' defenseman Aaron Ward took the liberty of punching Max Talbot in the chops in the corner, igniting the physical nature that would carry on for the remainder of the game.
Penguins' rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski turned the puck over in his own zone, and the B's got another good scoring chance that was thwarted by Sabou.
The Malkin-Crosby connection got a great scoring chance midway through the opening frame, when Sid dropped a pass to Malkin and Gino fired a quick shot that Thomas quickly steered aside.
Malkin once again showed his emergence as a legitimate two-way forward, when he back-checked after the play and stripped the Bruins of the puck at center ice, dumping it back into the B's zone and heading to the bench for a change.
The Bruins went on the power play, which the Penguins killed off thanks to some solid net-minding by Sabourin.
After the penalty, Eric Godard and Thornton decided to dance. The fight was short lived, as Thornton lost his footing without either combatant landing any serious blows.
The Bruins went on the power play two more times in the next five minutes, failing to capitalize on either attempt.
While shorthanded, Crosby sweep-checked a Bruin at the blue line and Malkin corralled the loose puck and headed up the ice. Malkin flew into the zone, one-on-one with Herman Munster—eh, I mean Zdeno Chara.
Malkin got a shot on the net which was kicked into the slot by Thomas—just in time for Miro Satan to depart from the penalty box, pick up the rebound, and put it where grandma keeps the peanut butter—the top shelf. 1-0, Pens.
The intensity level picked up in the second period, as did the play of each goaltender.
The Bruins were finally able to sneak a puck past Dany Sabourin, as Phil Kessel took advantage of a Milan Lucic screen on the power play and beat Sabourin over the left shoulder. 1-1.
Marc Savard put on a passing clinic in the offensive zone, setting up three scoring chances for his linemates. Crosby had enough of being outdone by Savard, and took some liberties on him in the corner. Both players headed off for coincidental roughing minors, and we had a chance to see some four-on-four hockey.
With two fewer players on the ice, Pascal Dupuis turned in the most productive 15 seconds of his life. Dupuis flew into the Bruins' zone and freight-trained Dennis Wideman behind the net. Dupuis scooped up the loose puck and whipped a quick wrist shot to the net, but Thomas stood tall.
The second period ended with the score deadlocked at one.
The teams combined for a total of just nine shots on goal in the third period, but the period left nothing to be desired in the physicality department.
The teams played evenly through the final 20 minutes of regulation, and the Pens headed to overtime for the fourth time in seven games.
Just over two minutes into overtime, the Penguins received a gift. Malkin and Jordan Staal got a two-on-one rush. Malkin fed the puck to Staal, and Staal did the only productive thing he has done thus far this season—drove the net.
Staal was hooked up by Marc Savard, and the Penguins were set to play out the remainder of overtime with a four-on-three advantage.
18 seconds into the Penguins' power play, Staal forgot that there were officials on the ice and slipped his stick between the legs of a Bruin defenseman in front of the net. The defenseman hit the ice, and Staal was sent to the box for slashing, erasing the man advantage, and likely his chances of being on the ice in a clutch situation for the next month.
Three-on-three hockey is always entertaining, but rare to see in an NHL game. The two teams played out the remainder of overtime with three players to a side, but neither team was able to beat the opposing netminder.
The game headed to the shootout.
The Bruins elected to shoot second, so Kris Letang was up first for Pittsburgh. Letang lost control of the puck and Thomas got the butt end of his stick on the puck to make the save. 0-0.
Phil Kessel was the first shooter for the B's. Kessel beat cancer, so chances of him beating an NHL goaltender were pretty damn good. 1-0 Bruins.
Petr Sykora hopped onto the ice for the Pens, went to the short side of the net and was able to sneak the puck past Thomas and off the post to even the score. 1-1.
Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Michael Ryder, Satan, and David Krecji were each turned away by the goaltenders.
Malkin was the fourth shooter for the Pens. Riding the momentum wave which has seen Gino rattle off eight points in the last three games, Malkin took the weight of the game on his shoulders.
Malkin deked Thomas so many times that his kids will be born dizzy, before wristing the puck home to give the Pens a 2-1 lead in the shootout.
Marc Savard rounded out the shootout lineup for Boston. Sabou stood tall, making the save and locking up the victory for Pittsburgh.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 2, Boston 1
- It seems like I say this in every recap, but, Evgeni Malkin is playing on a level above every one of his teammates and opponents right now. I even saw him give Savard a few choice words during a scrum in front of the net—in English.
- Jordan Staal put on the worst performance of his career tonight. He was lackluster at best on the backcheck, and even worse on the forecheck. If Staal plans to remain in Pittsburgh beyond this season, which is the last of his rookie contract, he needs to step it up soon.
- Sabourin stopped 35 of 36 shots, and Thomas was just as good, stopping 31 of 32.
- Thomas needs to go on a diet.
- Phil Kessel is an inspiration every time he steps on the ice.
- The Pens resume action on Thursday night when they will host the Carolina Hurricanes at Mellon Arena. Perhaps big brother Eric will light a fire under his sibling sometime during the 60 minutes of this upcoming game.
Let's Go Pens!
Full article at Experiencing the Evolution.